To the Editor,
I write in response to Eric Dent’s letter to the editor, “Society Can’t Be Fearful of a Dissenting Opinion,” published in The Robesonian on Oct. 1. I couldn’t agree more with many of Dr. Dent’s statements, particular those that call for society to “be open to all ideas expressed, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each, and then collectively decide on the best ideas.”
I especially agree that we should not be “afraid of someone’s ideas who are different from ours.” The challenge, however, is what to do when those with power and influence over the UNC System do not practice the above. If various UNC stakeholders do not believe that their views will be represented by the UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions, then they may take action to make their voices heard. Students, faculty, and other interested groups have spoken in a number of ways. Several UNC faculty senates, as well as the UNC faculty assembly, have passed resolutions asking for more representation from faculty, students, and administration on the committee. This action is a way to put multiple perspectives on the table, a way to get the committee to consider different ideas. Other groups have actively requested the removal of certain members of the committee. I imagine that these groups are aware of the perspectives of certain committee members, particularly their ideas of public education, and believe the committee will not represent the values that the UNC System has espoused since its inception.
If parties with a vested interest in the UNC System do not agree with choices made by General Administration, the Board of Governors, and any other governing bodies, then they absolutely have the right to make their voices heard. We should not be afraid of dissent or activism, nor should we demonize it. The dialogue that ensues may be difficult, may provoke anger, and may outright frighten some. But it will also ensure that multiple voices are heard. We should embrace such dialogue, in whatever form it takes, as such is the essence of a democratic society.